Dry eyes can be quite irritating; they scratch, itch, and can become inflamed which can cause considerable discomfort. Not to worry though — Aurora 2020 offers a suite of solutions that can help treat dry eye disease, including the use of omega-3 fatty acids. Book an appointment to talk to one of our eye doctors about what dry eye solution will work best for your specific needs.
What is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye conditions in the world. Dry eyes develop when your tears are not lubricating the surface of your eyes adequately — usually, this means you are not producing an adequate quantity of tears, or your tears are evaporating too fast due to poor quality.
Some noticeable symptoms you may develop if you are dealing with dry eye disease are feeling a burning or scratching sensation on your eyes, inflammation of the eyes, and a sensitivity to light.
Any type of person can develop dry eyes, but you might be at a higher risk of dry eye disease if you:
- Are age 50 or older
- Are female
- Wear contact lenses
- Don’t get enough vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids
- Have certain autoimmune conditions like lupus or Sjögren syndrome
What Causes Dry Eye Disease?
Normally, the glands around your eye and eyelids will work together to make tears that keep your eyes wet and healthy. Dry eye disease can occur when:
- Your glands don’t make enough tears to keep your eyes moist
- Your tears dry up and evaporate too fast
- Your tears do not have the right balance of mucus, oil, and water — this can cause less tear production or faster tear evaporation
Treating Dry Eye Disease
There are many different ways to begin treating dry eye disease. Keep in mind how serious your symptoms are, and consider talking to your eye doctor about what solutions may work best for your specific situation. Your eye doctor may suggest:
- Artificial tears — these are over-the-counter eye drops designed to function like your natural tears. There is no need for a prescription to purchase artificial tears.
- Prescription medication— if you have a severe case of dry eye, your eye doctor may give you a prescription for cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra). These two medicines will increase your tear production.
- Punctal plugs — if your tears are evaporating too fast, your doctor may suggest putting punctal plugs in your tear ducts to keep your tears in your eyes longer
- Surgery — surgery is not very common for treating dry eye disease. If you have a severe case of dry eyes, or your lower eyelids are too loose, your eye doctor may suggest surgery as a solution to retaining more tears in your eyes.
If your case of dry eyes is being caused by your immediate environment or lifestyle choices, you may feel better if you:
- Avoid smoke, wind, and air conditioning
- Use a humidifier
- Limit time on digital screens and take breaks often
- Wear wraparound sunglasses outside
- Drink more water
- Get more sleep
- Try to blink often
How Fish Oils and Omega-3 Acids Can Help Treat Dry Eyes
Some people afflicted with dry eye disease have found relief through the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oils. Omega-3’s can be found naturally in fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna, or can be purchased in capsule form. A study conducted in 2005 involving 32,000 different women found that those who had consumed a considerable amount of omega-3 fats from eating fish had a 17% lower risk of dry eye when compared to women who did not consume many omega-3 fats.
Omega-3 oils also can reduce inflammation around the eye. Inflammation typically worsens other symptoms of dry eyes, but omega-3 can help keep any swelling or redness to a minimum. By treating the inflammation in and around your eyes, you can dramatically reduce the potential symptoms of dry eye disease.
The function of your eyes’ meibomian glands can be improved through the use of omega-3 oils. Meibomian glands produce the oil layer in your tear film, which keeps your tears from evaporating too quickly. By improving the functionality of your meibomian gland, you can prevent the development of dry eyes.
Omega-3 oils may also help improve other eye diseases as well. They may reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels that can occur due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal diseases.
When deciding what way to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, think about whether you want to eat more fish weekly, or if you want to supplement your established diet with omega-3 capsules. You may want to consult with one of our eye doctors to see if omega-3 will help effectively treat your condition and discuss what ingestion method is the best for your specific circumstances.